Fandom: Center Stage
Warnings: Mention of off-screen cheating by other characters
Prompt: #30 Whenever you take a step forward you are bound to disturb something. You disturb the air as you go forward, you disturb the dust, the ground. -- Indira Gandhi (1917-1984)
Summary: Life with the American Ballet Company
Author's Notes: None
Before the after-show party had even finished, Eva, Erik and Charlie had agreed that they'd rent an apartment together, preferably within walking distance of ABC.
"Because I am not giving up my morning lie-ins," Eva said firmly. Or her late night practice sessions, but they all did those, even Charlie, who everyone thought was a brilliant dancer. They weren't wrong.
"And we're buying a decent coffee pot," Charlie added. Jody, sitting too close to him for that kiss to have been anything but what it had looked like, giggled.
"You got any requests?" Erik asked her.
Her eyes went wide in that too-innocent way that sometimes drove Eva crazy, for all that she loved Jody like a sister. "I thought it was going to be the three of you."
"Sure, but I'm assuming you'll be round sometimes." Erik grinned at her, tipping his head to take in Charlie, who laughed and put his arm around her.
"Nah, we'll go to her place. Wouldn't want to disturb you two with our –"
"Don't say it," Eva said firmly as Jody slapped her hand over his mouth, going bright red.
"Come in," Juliette called, her voice crisp even through the closed office door.
Eva eased the door open, waiting on the threshold. Juliette's office was nice: small, but with a big window that caught the winter sun and made the whole place look warm. Eva's eye was immediately drawn to the shelf of dancing pictures, most of them featuring Juliette in a variety of well-known roles.
"Hello, Eva," Juliette said warmly from the low easy chair she was sitting in, a book open on her knee. "Why don't you come in?"
Eva did, hesitating behind the second chair until Juliette nodded for her to sit. "I didn't know you had an office."
Juliette smiled. "I don't spend much time here, but yes. All of the staff do."
Eva tried to imagine Cooper sitting behind a desk, but couldn't. He wasn't real staff anyway. "It's nice."
"Thank you." Juliette closed her book. "Are you excited about starting with the Company next week?"
"Yeah." It came out a bit more uncertain than she'd meant, and she ducked her head. "It's just – I never really thought I'd get in. I guess I didn't let myself think about what it would be like."
"Change is always unnerving," Juliette said in that calm way she said everything. At least, when she wasn't annoyed with Eva for something, though that hadn't happened in months.
"Can I ask you a question?"
"Why didn't you just give up on me? When I was being all..."
"Challenging?" Juliette's smile made Eva smile back, a little embarrassed at how she'd behaved in Juliette's class. "I looked at you, and I could see the dancer that you could be, if you took yourself seriously as a dancer. I could see you with the Company, and I wanted that for you."
Eva ducked her head, more shy than she'd ever been in her life. She'd looked Juliette up – Juliette had been more of a star than Kathleen Donovan in her day, even if Eva hadn't really seen her as more than her too-strict teacher. "Would it be okay if – I mean, I know you're busy but... Maybe I could stop by sometimes? And see you?"
"Of course," Juliette said again. "I hope you'll stop by often."
Eva felt something in her give way in relief. "Great. Thank you."
Eva was curled up in front of a late night showing of The Turning Point when the door to Charlie's room opened and Jody slipped out. "Hey," Eva said softly, tipping her head back to watch Jody, wearing an ABC t-shirt of Charlie's, cross the room.
"Hey," Jody echoed, brushing one hand through Eva's hair as she curled onto the couch with her. "Why are you up?"
Eva shrugged, muting the movie. "Couldn't sleep."
Jody stroked Eva's hair back from her face and Eva leaned into it, trying not to think about where else Jody's fingers had probably been. Jody had ended up lodging with an older friend of Cooper's, who didn't approve of her bringing Charlie home, and the two of them weren't all that quiet when they were having sex. "Is everything all right?"
"I wish you were coming to Cooper's company with me. It's going to be weird without you."
"And you." Not that Eva would have joined Cooper's company even if he'd asked. Sure, his ballet had been a riot, and fun to watch, but Jonathan's had been something else. She'd felt perfect dancing it, like she couldn't be anywhere else.
Also, Cooper was an asshole, for all that Jody seemed to think he'd reformed.
"What part would you dance, if you could dance any part?" Jody asked, not for the first time in the year they'd known each other.
"Giselle," Eva said.
"You always say that." Jody laughed a little. "One day you're going to say something different."
"Maybe," Eva said lightly, knowing she wouldn't. Dancing Giselle meant you'd made it as a classical ballerina. No Latina woman had ever danced it.
With a contract to the American Ballet Company to her name, she felt like she could be the first. Like she would be the first.
"How's college?" Eva asked, dropping onto her back in the middle of her bed, the phone pressed to her ear.
"Hard work," Maureen said dryly. "I'm so far behind everyone else."
"Now you know how we all felt." Eva held her breath; that was the first time she'd said anything about Maureen's time at ABA. Maureen seemed to be dealing, but there was still a lot under the surface when it came to her old room-mate.
"I suppose so." There was a pause. "College is good. It's – I like that it's hard. Like knowing I made the right decision."
"I get that," Eva said. If she tipped her head slightly, she could see the ABC poster on the back of her door, featuring Kathleen, and Cooper's replacement, Pierre. "Jonathan drilled us for an hour this morning to get the angle right on our legs."
Maureen laughed, a sound that Eva was still getting used to. "I bet yours was perfect."
It had been, but Eva didn't want to be like Maureen had been, so sure and vocal in her own success. "Getting there. How's Jim?"
"Fine," Maureen said, a sly, happy note in her voice that made Eva smile. "Actually, he's working some of the after-show events for next week's performances."
"Tell him to save me a chocolate." Eva, as one of the new members of ABC, had to circulate the events, but at least this time she didn't have to try to convince people to buy a shoe.
"I was..." Eva heard Maureen take a deep breath. "I was thinking about coming to one of the performances. I want to see you dance."
"Oh," Eva said, struck dumb by Maureen's suggestion, her friend's underlying strength. "I'd love to see you there. If you're sure you'd be okay."
"I think so," Maureen said, her voice only wobbling a little. "I feel like maybe it's time for me to try anyway."
"Tell me which night you're coming, we can have a drink after."
"Great," Maureen said, then, sounding like she was smiling, "You can give me your autograph."
Saturday night, or Friday if they got lucky and didn't have rehearsal Saturday as well, was party night. Eva, Erik and Charlie went out every week, and most weeks Jody joined them, or whoever Erik was dating. Sometimes Anna as well, or other people from ABC. Occasionally someone from Cooper's company, though not very often, which Eva figured had something to do with most of his dancers thinking ballet was boring and too strict. Personally, she thought putting ballet steps to rock music didn't make it ballet, but she wasn't going to say that in front of Jody.
Anyway, it meant that on any other night, anyone wanting to go out was on their own. Which was fine by Eva; she'd learned the hard way that you couldn't meet a girl in a lesbian bar with a male friend hanging around.
Yvette's, despite sounding like the kind of place where all the women wore plaid and Doc Marten's, was hopping when Eva pushed her way through the crowd, the usual mix of younger and older women that made it easy for her to blend in.
"Get you something?"
Eva blinked, expecting to see Hannah, the regular Tuesday night bar-tender, and finding herself faced with a much younger woman. Her tight shirt showed off the kind of curves Eva had forgotten women even had, since she'd started spending all her time with ballet dancers. "Rum and Coke?"
"For you, I'll even find a straw," she promised.
Eva's drink, when it arrived, had a pink straw, a black straw, a white umbrella, and a cherry on a stick. "Seriously?" she asked, laughing.
The girl shrugged. "You're new, I like to make a good first impression."
Eva resisted the urge to point out that it was the bar-tender who was new; maybe it really had been too long since she'd last gone out on her own. "Eva Rodriguez."
The bar-tender took her hand, shook it firmly. "Agnes DuLaine."
Eva found out about Jody and Cooper on a Sunday afternoon, when Charlie threw open the front door to their apartment so hard it bounced against the wall and narrowly missed hitting him in the face.
"Hey," Erik said, though it didn't carry as much weight as it would if he hadn't had his head in Luke's lap at the time. "You break that, we don't get our security deposit back."
"I don't care," Charlie said, and slammed his bedroom door behind himself.
Eva met Erik's eyes, which were very clearly begging for her to go deal with their angry room-mate, so he didn't have to stop cuddling with his new boyfriend. "You wait until I start seeing someone," she said, dumping his feet out of her lap, and went to check on Charlie.
He'd thrown himself onto his bed like a sulky teenager, and said, "I don't want to talk about it," without looking at her.
"Yeah, tough." Eva sat on the edge of the bed, leaning against his back. He didn't push her away. "You want to storm around, you have to share. House rule."
"Since I just made it one. Spill."
"Jody dumped me." Charlie rolled over onto his back, and Eva could read what was coming next on his face. "She slept with Cooper again, she thinks they can make it work this time."
All things considered, that didn't seem like an optimum moment to ask whether Cooper thought they could make it work, or if there even was something to make work. Jody, Eva had decided over several breathlessly excited monologs about how amazing Cooper was as a choreographer and company manager, brought into the romance of dance far too easily. It wasn't exactly a huge surprise that she'd end up in bed with her opposite principal.
"I'm sorry," she said instead, curling over Charlie to hug him. "That sucks."
"Yeah," Charlie agreed.
"Your turn to pick a bar," Erik said on the way to Friday practise, his arm looped through Eva's left, her right through Charlie's, even though he was intent on the review of Cooper's latest performance.
Eva hesitated, but it wasn't like either of them were going to care. "Can we go some place new?"
"You're choosing, we can go anywhere you like," Erik said. "Right, Charlie?"
Charlie blinked, like he'd forgotten they were even there. "Sure. As long as it's not going to be full of dancers."
"It's not." Eva squeezed his arm. "Well, none that will want to dance with you, anyway."
"What kind of bar is it where no-one wants to dance with Charlie?" Erik asked, mock-outraged. "You remember when we took him to a gay bar, right?"
"I got more drinks bought for me than Erik," Charlie said, looking inappropriately pleased about that.
"Yeah, and more phone numbers."
"I gave them all to you, didn't I? Actually, wasn't Luke one of them?"
"Luke gave me his own phone number, thank you very much."
"Guys," Eva said firmly, since she knew from experience that they could go on for days like this, friendly bickering that served to strengthen their friendship as much as anything else.
"So, go on, this mysterious bar?" Erik prompted.
"It's called Yvette's?"
"Yvette's," Erik echoed. "On King? Isn't that..?"
"A lesbian bar? Yeah." Eva glanced sideways at Charlie, who raised an eyebrow back at her, looking supremely unconcerned. "I guess I've got something to tell you?"
The day before school finished for Christmas, the ABA kids – the real kids, the ones who looked too young to be away from their parents for a couple of days, never mind a couple of months – came to watch a rehearsal.
Eva had a tiny part, barely more than a walk-on if it had been a film. It was an honor, though, for a first year member of the company, and Juliette's pleased, proud smile when Eva told her had made Eva flush all over from happy pride.
Of course, it helped that all those hours of extra practise paid off, and she actually got a, "Good work," from Jonathan at the end.
Later, heading down to lunch, she passed a group of girls who'd been in the front row of the rehearsal – she recognized the little redhead, several inches shorter than any of the others. She wasn't surprised when a couple of them said hello; she was surprised to hear feet running after her as she passed them.
Eva turned, finding herself face-to-face with a Latina girl, her hair pulled back into the familiar bun, her satchel clasped in her hands. "Yes?"
"Was it really you who danced this morning?"
Eva went down on one knee, offering her hand. "Yes, it was. My name's Eva, what's yours?"
"Yolanda. And they're my friends Alison and Sarah and Susanna."
"It's nice to meet you, Yolanda."
"Can I tell you a secret?" Yolanda asked, stepping a little closer to Eva.
"If you want to."
"You're my favorite and I want to be like you when I get older," Yolanda said, all in one breath.
Eva blinked, feeling tears stupidly sting her eyes. "Thank you, Yolanda. That's really nice of you."
"You won't tell anyone?"
"Promise." Eva mimed crossing her heart. "Go with your friends now, and have a good Christmas."
"You, too," Yolanda called back, already running away.
Eva had plans with Agnes and a couple of other friends from Yvette's, Christmas shopping with Jody, two performances on Christmas Day, a new year's party in the apartment, and post-Christmas dinner with Juliette. She was pretty sure this was going to be one of her best Christmases ever.